One of the great benefits of social media is our opportunity to strengthen old ties, deepen relationships with the extended family we only ever used to see at weddings and funerals and to make new friendships with people we may never meet in real life.
A side effect is the fact that the peoples lives with whom we’ve woven greater entanglement will have stuff happen to them that we may never have been aware of before. This means that both the congratulations and commiserations are felt by a wider, deeper group of people and those events mean we have more opportunities than ever to reflect on our earth bound journeys, those of others and their effects on each us individually and as a part of a whole.
It was a tough time this week for a number of people in my life. One family lost their first parent while two others lost their remaining parents. They’d effectively become orphans.
In a perfect world, all children would farewell their parents, who had already enjoyed their tenure as grandparents for many years before leaving this world, when they were very old. Unfortunately, life is not so kind and some kids lose their parents before they’re even old enough to understand what death means.
And ideally, all children would have wonderful relationships with their parents.
I was not ready to say goodbye to my dad when he died at the age of 53 and though I was an adult, his death hit me in a manner that took me 18 months to recover from and even more years before I got to comprehend the opportunity I had been given.
When my dad died, I was lucky enough to have a really great relationship with a man that I loved dearly, not just as a parent but as a friend and fellow male. He was a great role model for me and my siblings in many ways. So, when he died, there was no great yearning for a relationship that had never been.
Had it been my mother that had died, then there would exist to this very day a great heart ache that would never be filled. My mother and I have always struggled in our relationship. And it got worse immediately after my dad died as I couldn’t justify why the parent I was left with was the one that I struggled to hold down a conversation with.
As many women will relate to, my relationship with my mother got better when I had kids of my own. I started to understand some of the decisions she had made and having kids gave me reasons to call her. Sometimes, it’s for my girls to say thanks to Grandma for their presents and others it’s just so they can say hi.
One day, my mother will die and I too will become an orphan. By then, I would love nothing more than to have the same relationship with her as I did with my dad.
Because every little boy should miss his mum.